Part One – The Sheep
We’ve all done those trips down memory Lane haven’t we? My own trips often include the cast of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’. Sheep, pet lambs, goats, ponies, cats, dogs, chickens, rabbits, hamsters and a couple of parrots that all became part of our family.
Right now, it’s the beginning of August and as usual at this time of year, the lambs have been separated from the yews and have been moved a mile up the hill to fresh grazing. I enjoy watching the lambs grow and still feel a twinge of sadness when it’s time for them to move on, their mothers however, appear to get over it in less than twenty four hours!
When our children were young we all looked forward to springtime and the new lambs. It was a time when if we were lucky, we would have the opportunity to bottle feed the pet ones, we ourselves never had any orphans, however, we were fortunate that some years a local farmer with too many would kindly donate a couple for our children to take care of.
One particular year, my husband got a bit carried away at the market and came home with eighteen pet lambs. Attempting to bottle feed eighteen of them proved difficult, so the hubby, who was the handy sort and a bit of a genius, constructed a piece of equipment similar to the one shown below; we attached six bottles of milk and put the lambs to it six at a time. If you’ve ever seen lambs bottle feed you will know that half a pint of milk disappears in seconds and they’ll still come back for more, this meant we had to be careful that we didn’t feed the same lamb twice!
Another year during lambing time, Josie, one of our former pet lambs gave birth out in the field to a single lamb. Unfortunately, the children who were playing at the far end of the field with their friends, spotted the new arrival and raced across with dogs in tow for a closer look. When Josie saw the advancing group she backed off leaving the lamb on its own. Josie returned to the lamb as soon as the children were called away, but instead of feeding her lamb as expected, she began to forcefully butt the lamb until she knocked it over, she walked some distance away and returned a short while later to repeat the head butting. This continued until we decided to intervene.
We took Josie and her lamb into a stable, the hubby held the ewe and I put the lamb to her teat to allow it to suckle. To keep the lamb safe we erected a small wire fence between them, and during the day returned several times to allow the lamb to feed, however, whenever we let go of the lamb, Josie with her head butting would knock it to the ground. She finally accepted her lamb but it was to be almost two weeks before the happy outcome was achieved.
One spring morning, a relative telephoned to tell me about a farmer who had a single orphan lamb, however, this farmer wasn’t interested in keeping orphans and was, without conscience, leaving the lamb to die. Feeling heroic, I drove over to his farm and offered to buy it, “Give us a couple of quid missus an yer can av it ” came the gruff reply.
When I arrived home with the new lamb, the hubby with his quirky sense of humour named him Twoquid.
You may have noticed that baby lambs, in order to stimulate the milk flow, launch themselves at their mothers abdomen with a head butt. Pet lambs don’t normally do this, Twoquid, however, wasn‘t like other lambs and at feeding time he would follow his instinct and greet us with an enthusiastic head butt.
Twoquid grew into a fine strong ram, a ram with horns, horns that on several occasions he managed to use to open the gate to the paddock. No longer fenced in, he would appear at the back door and bah loudly until one of us opened it. Looking back, I’m quite surprised we didn’t use straws to determine which of us would open the door, because the moment he saw us he would launch into his heavy horned head butt, and if Twoquid spotted any of us in his field, it became a race to see whether he would reach us before we reached the gate.